In the cold and darkness between worlds, Riku remembered his laughter. It lingered in his memory like blue water and hot sand, raw and intense and earnest and beautiful enough to hurt, blinding in its honesty. It made his heart strain for air as he pushed the cobwebs of worlds between his fingers, born again and again from the womb of the darkness, falling to unsteady ground and dripping with shadows like blood.
In his memory there was light, water ice-cold from the waterfall, the sun melting on the horizon in a pool of its own fire, turning the ocean warm gold, the wind bringing Sora's smell agaisnt his bare skin, as if the other boy had reached out to touch him.
Riku followed it through the darkness, running low like an animal pursued, holding tight to the world he had struggled so hard to leave. He was out there somewhere, not in the brightness of memory but just ahead of the tide of shadows. Riku ran with the crest of the wave and struggled for Sora's sky. He missed time and again, one world too late, one step too far, and spun in eddies of chiaroscuro.
He landed hard and ran through a world of blurred greys, not sensing him, and burst back into the darkness as quickly as he had come, not lingering. The shadows parted for him again and it was raining here. He remembered rain in the hammered-together shelter, warm and secretive, sharing stories in the grey light until the clouds passed.
Something brushed by the fingertips of his mind and he spun, water fountaining under his boots. The streets here were empty, but they had not been for long. He tore through space like a veil, staggering at last, the trail cold. He had not been here.
The fabric of this world had not yet knit behind him and Riku spun the keyblade in his hand, waiting. It would not be the first time he had been followed, heartless with their hollow eyes and scrabbling fingers pouring out of the rent he had made in his passing.
The darkness parted and collided hard with him, knocking him back into the mud, his keyblade flung wide and useless in his hand. But no heartless had eyes so blue, or smelled like a summer sky, boundless and bright.
He was older-- how long had it been?-- and there was more strength than Riku remembered in the sudden arms around him, a depth to the sound of his name that had not been there before.
"Riku," Sora said, and his laughter was no memory. "Don't you ever stand still?"
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